Parachute Adams



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Choosing the Right Fly Line

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Choosing the Right Fly Fishing Line

With the many types of fly fishing line to choose from, what type will be the best for your situation?  This article explains what types of fly line there are, when to use them, and which brand and model to buy.  It is an in depth subject with lots to learn, as choosing the right fly line is very important and will reflect your experience on the water.

Choosing the Right Fly Fishing Line

Unlike standard gear fishing where you are casting a weighted lure, with fly fishing you are casting the line. It is the exact opposite, the heavier the fly the harder it is to cast. This is because you are casting the line and any weight or size to the fly will want to slow the line down. Therefore, you can expect to spend what would be considered a lot of money by gear fishermen on fly line, but a good high quality line is definitely worth it. You want a line that will load up you rod and cast a nice tight loop, and be one that you can use for a long time and in many different situations.

There are several different fly lines to choose from.  In fact, there are more than the above average fly fisherman will ever need.  Here we will discuss the most popular types and what they are used for, as well as my pick of brand and model.

Weight Forward

The standard fly line is weight forward line (WF) and will most likely be the one you want. WF line has a taper at the end where it has a larger diameter and heavier weight than the rest of the line that is designed to shoot the line out of the back cast loop and then drop it down lightly at the end of the cast.
There are other types of line, but they are quickly losing ground as WF line is the correct choice for almost any fishing condition.  It is the only style that I use, and aside from people who buy the cheapest line or combo set that comes with no taper, I don’t know anybody that uses anything different.  If you do buy a cheap combo set, the first thing you will want to do is buy a new WF line and get rid of the junk level line (same diameter throughout the line) it came with. 

Types of lines:

Lines are typically either floating or sinking types with variations of both available.

Floating Line

Fly lines are designed to either float or sink.  The most common method when people think of fly fishing is casting to trout with floating flies designed to look like bugs, which requires floating line.  Same goes for nymph fishing, but a split shot weight or weighted fly is used to get the fly to the fish. WF Floating lines are by far the easiest to cast, so if you are just learning the fundamentals of fly fishing, this is probably what you will start with.

Sinking line

There are many reasons for wanting your line to sink.  Many times the fish are deep and are feeding on bait fish.  In this case you need a line that will deliver some sort of wet fly that imitates what they are feeding on.  This requires a sinking line or floating line with a sink tip.  With new advancements in lines, full sinking line is quickly becoming less and less popular.  Instead people are using WF floating line and then adding certain tips to the line that have different sink rates. 

Floating Line with Sink Tips

The most versatile and becoming more the norm are WF Lines that come with a variety of sinking tips that sink at different rates.  This allows a fly fisherman to be able to adapt his or her techniques quickly to adhere to what the fish are doing.  Personally, all my rods have a WF floating lines with interchangeable tips.  I want to be ready for whatever it will take to hook the big fish.  These combination lines are a little bit more expensive than standard lines, but you get several lines that can be applied to different situations in one package. 
Another way to fish multiple depths with a WF floating line is to buy a spool of sinking line such as “T 14” and cut it into different lengths depending on how fast you want it to drop through the water column. This is better suited for advanced fly fisherman as it takes time to know how much sinking line will be the best for certain situations and can sometimes be tougher to cast for the novice. 


Fly Line Backing is usually braided line (gear fishing line) that is placed on the reel before the fly line and serves the purpose of a reserve line for those big, reel smokin’ fish that can’t be stopped.  Typically a person will want 200-300 yards of 20 – 30 lb backing depending on the size of fish they are after.  For most applications with a 7wt or lighter, 20lb will be more than enough.  From 8-12 wt you will be better off with 30 lb.  Anything bigger than that and 40lb would probably be a better bet.  A good rule of thumb is to use at least 10lbs heavier than the heaviest portion of your leader (the monofilament line between the fly line and fly).  That way, if you hook a brute that takes you into your backing and there is a break, the leader will break instead of your backing.  So you will lose the fish, but you will still have your spendy fly line.


As you can see, there is a lot more to picking out a fly line then just grabbing one off the shelf.  If you want to set yourself up for whatever you may run into, then I would definitely suggest you go with a Weight Forward Floating Line with interchangeable tips.  If you are looking to save some money initially, then you can go with just Weight Forward Floating Line and then buy sink tips for it in the future.  To get my recommendation on the specific brand and model of line that I use, please go to my Fly Fishing Gear Guide website at and click on fly lines.  You will also be able to look though my pages of other fly fishing gear that I recommend. Click here: